To New Horizons
Ken Smith sez: This film was put together by General Motors to trumpet their "Highways and Horizons" exhibit (which included the Futurama) at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. It opens in b&w, as a wistful, utopian narrator explains how Americans are always striving for "new horizons," and "new ways of doing things." Then the film turns color, and we are taken into the G.M. pavilion, where we slowly pan over "the wonder world of 1960" -- an immense, miniature diorama designed by Norman Bel Geddes. An eerie organ-of-the-future plays as the narrator shows us an autocentric world -- complete with 100 mph freeways and city traffic systems "designed to bypass undesirable slum areas." "Does it seem strange? Unbelievable?" the narrator asks, as we look at a world that is unbelievable almost 35 years after it was supposed to exist. "We are all interested in the future, for that is where we will spend the rest of our lives!" An evocation of an abundant future and a unique little piece of film history.
¥ 20:34:28:18- 20:34:51:00
Series of driving POV shots. We move forward on various paths and roads starting with a grassy path, dissolving to a dirt road, next a road that looks as though its got wooden planks, then a wooden bridge, and finally we veer off to another narrow dirt road. All that's seen in this sequence are the roads and the rugged land surrounding them.
¥ 20:35:02:10- 20:35:10:15
Short but excellent driving POV first past a woman using a water pump in her front yard and next to a visceral image of children running towards their schoolhouse.
¥ 20:36:23:20- 20:36:31:18
Short but nice driving POV. We see out the top corner of the passenger's window which gives us a view of the beautiful desert we rapidly drive by as well as the interior of the car.
¥ 20:37:44:10- 20:38:16:10
Series of driving POV up hills/mountains and around hair pin turns. We drive by green hills, rocky desert areas, snowy pine trees, and gently rolling hills all the while coming dangerously close to the edge. Sometimes dizzying as we round the turns.
¥ 20:40:13:24- 20:40:29:25
Excellent pan of crowds at the 1939/40 New York World's Fair waiting to get inside of the General Motors building. As the camera pans the people in line (several of whom look at the camera), the film changes from black and white to Technicolor. A man waves at the camera as it continues to pan the area.
¥ 20:40:57:15- 20:41:10:10
More footage of lines going into the Futurama exhibit in the General Motors building. This time we view the area where the line wraps around several levels. As the camera pans the line, it is clear that the lines were intended to be part of the architecture of the building.
FUTURISM NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR AUTOMOBILES TRANSPORTATION GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION EXPOSITIONS EXHIBITS SCIENCE PROGRESS World's Fairs (New York, 1939) Futurism Surrealism Time travel Models Highways Interchanges (highways) Highways (futuristic) Automobiles Transportation Horses Wagons (horse-drawn) Wagons (covered) Schools (rural) Schoolhouses Factories Industry Neon signs Signs (neon) Bridges Driving General Motors Corp. (sponsor) General Motors Corp. Futurama exhibit, New York World's Fair (1939) Infrastructure
Subject: GM Futurama Designed by Norman Bel Geddes
Tops in presentation and drama. Individual chairs
with STEREO sound whisk the show-goer around a
concealed track which revealed the world of 1960
from various perspectives as if on board an
aircraft.Constant narration and a musical soundtrack played on the Hammond NOVACHORD the
first musical synthesizer. The instrument was
powered by vacuum tubes. Truly futuramic! Disney
learned about mounting shows at Disneyland from this highly original effort.
Subject: Great stuff ...
Subject: run for your lives, it's THE FUTURE
AutoGyros and a Dirigible parked in liquid to make it 'turn easier'..now thats a hoot.
Of course, no one thought about global warming, but in this film its eerie to hear the announcer talk about how everyone is bathed in sunshine..the music is an odd twilight zone kind of organ playing...well worth seeing.
Subject: Image vs. Reality
Once GM and their pals finally convinced the U.S. government to implement various elements of the film in its country-wide development strategy (like giving contractors massive swaths of building land,) the nation had to deal with the aftermath - that is, people wasting oceans of gas to get to work every day, suburban detatchment, pollution - none of which fit into the film's view of 1960 (or later.)
The film is as much cautionary tale as it is an optimistic outlook. Let's recognize what more needs to be done to arrive at a vision of the future which can truly 'work' and not just look good in little models (however beautifully they've been designed.)
Subject: How quickly we forget
...or are we?
The FED owns us!
Subject: some facts
A companion film to "To New Horizons" would be "On To Jupiter," another GM-sponsored film on the future that was actually played at the fair.
I don't know why it's still necessary to add a star rating when a person wants to add an annotation to the database (what am I rating?), but I have to, so here goes:
Subject: Nice to see Bela Lugosi was still gainfully employed.
Anyways, the city of the future is what you need to pay attention to here. 8 lane highways! Ramps that will take you god knows where. IÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂm still at a loss to wonder what on earth you need to do if you want to change lanes. Yikes!
Subject: Ironic and Sad
Subject: Highway to HELL
Subject: A Great Industrial Film
Some other related films:
More footage of the Futurama can be found in the amateur films from the Medicus collection:
For a peek at a few scenes from the 1964 World's Fair version, "Futurama II", see the second part of "To the Fair":
And "Your Name Here" is almost a direct parody of the first half of "To New Horizons."
Subject: The most blatant masonic reference I have ever seen!
Subject: To New Horizons
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ****. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****. Also available on Lifestyles USA, Vol. 1.